Questions and Answers with Logan White

Logan White became the Dodger director of amateur scouting in 2002. His first draft was rated the fourth best among all major league teams, in 2003, it was ranked No.1 and in 2004 , second among all teams. That's the first time ever that any organization's drafts were rated that highly in a three-year period.

White was himself a well regarded pitching prospect until an arm injury ended his career prematurely. Having graduated from college in four years ( a rare accomplishment for an athlete), he returned to graduate school while becoming an English teacher. In 1989, he was hired by the Orioles and became an area scout. While with Baltimore, he signed Jason Werth, Matt Riley, and Josh Towers among others. He then joined the Padres and rose to become their West Coast supervisor. Dustin Hermansen, Gary Mathews, Jr.; Ben Davis and Matt Clement are among those who signings he participated in with that team before coming over to the Dodgers.

Q- Inside baseball they say a typical Logan White draft will be strong in high school players with the emphasis often on pitching . Do you agree?

A- That's because of the trend that has taken place in the game . Other organizations have been taking the collegiate player which has left some good high schoolers available. We 're looking for ability and we don't say , 'Take the high schol kid. " We take the best player that's there when we pick. No, we're not afraid to take a high school pitcher. We look into the background of every player we take. I think a lot of people have the idea that we take a young raw kid who just has a good arm. I won't take that kind up high and never will. The ones we select have had a lot of experience, often at the international level.

Q- How would rate your 04 draft?

A- I'm excited . I feel good that we were able to get some players that our scouts liked a lot. It's an experienced draft and an excellent draft. I didn't think (Scott) Elbert and (Blake) DeWitt would be there when it came our turn. To get (Justin ) Orenduff with his international experience when we did was a plus, ans to get (Blake) Johnson in the second round and Javy Guerra down in the fourth made me estatic.

Q- Let's talk about some of those players. How about Elbert?

A- His record in the Pioneer League wasn't that good but remember that's here's a young pitcher in a league that has always had 23-year-old college players and was older than normal this year because of the visa rule . He has all kinds of ability. We limited his innings which led to a high ERA . He'd give up a couple of runs, get behind, then have to come out. But he's an athlete, an outstanding quarterback with a great arm who had to get used to the pro routine of pitching every five days. With experience he should do very well.

Q- And Blake DeWitt?

A- He was a shortstop in high school that we moved to third and he took to it very well. He's a strong hitter who does everything well except he's a below average runner. His makeup is off the charts. He has a chance to be outstanding.

Q- You got Justin Orenduff as a first -round supplemental pick . How do you feel he did?

A- We were fortunate he was available in that spot. He's a lot of pitcher with a good fast ball and an even better curve. He had a high ERA , too, but he'd thrown a lot of innings before he signed and came on to give us some tough innings. I think he could move very fast and could be a big surprise next year.

Q- How about surprises in your drafts? Any lower picks that fall in that category?

A- I don't like to say'surprises' . Some have done what we hoped they could do. We took Rusell Martin (17th round, 2002) who was an infielder with the idea that he could be a catcher. He's been terific. I'm happy but not surprised that he's made the transition so well. Matt Kemp (sixth round, 2003) was primarily a basketball player in high school. He's come along to show he's a player with power who can run and throw. Certainly we visualized his having that ability. Steve Schmoll is a testiomonial to scout Clair Rierson. He had pitched only a limited time but Rierson was after me constantly to sign him since he was a fifth-year senior (at the University of Maryland) who didn't have to go through the draft . There was a bidding war for him but we were able to get him. I've been watching him in the Arizona Fall League and I think he could pitch in the big leagues right now. If I'm surprised by anything it's how fast these players have come.

Q- Let's check in with some other highly regarded players the Dodgers have signed. How about Greg Miller (who didn't pitch at all in 2004 after shoulder surgery) ?

A- He's been throwing off amound quite well. He'll continue his rehabbing because we felt he's very young (19) and there was no need to rush him. He should be ready in spring training . I'm optimistic he'll return to being the Greg Miller we saw before the injury.

Q- How about another No. one pick (2002) who was injured, James Loney?

A- There's no question that James has the ability . He broke his wrist the first year and it bothered him in 2003 but I thought he did well at Vero Beach. He hit 31 doubles and those will be home runs when he matures. Then he had that great spring this year only to have a finger broken . It became infected and he was in the hospital, was on antibiotics a long time and lost strength. He was probably rushed back too soon. He's finally regained his strength and in Arizona he's stinging the ball. He plays a Gold Glove first base and I think he'll eventually hit 20-25 home runs in the big leagues.

Q- Jonathan Figueroa is from Venezuela but he came over here for the various Showcases where you signed him . He was a sensation in 2002 but hurt his arm and hasn't been the same since. How far has he come back?

A- When Figgy hurt his arm, he altered his slot and it's been tough getting him back to where it was before. At the end of the year at Columbus,he was finally back at his old arm slot and it's made a big difference. Before his fast ball was in thr 86-90 range but it's back to 93 now. He was banged around a lot for along time so it's a mater of getting his confidence back. I'm really optimstic that we'll see that happen.

Q- In the 2003 draft you picked Chad Billingsley No. 1 and he had a strong year in 2004. How do you rate him?

A- . He has the fast ball and his secondary pitches (curve, slider) are just as good. His makeup is also off the charts. He's intelligent , a quality we really look for in our early picks.

Q- How about your second-rounder Chuck Tiffany?

A- We considered taking him No. 1 at one point. He needs to stay consistent to be very good. He went through a bit of a dead arm period but I'm proud of what he was able to do. (Throwing a no-hitter in the South Atlantic League among other accomplishments). He has a plus fast ball and curve.

Q- You were able to get Andy LaRoche down in the 39th round of that draft.

A- I'm very proud of Andy. He could have gone on to Rice and probably been a first-rounder this year. I give him a lot of credit . He has bifg time power. To hit 23 home runs so early is very unusual. He's got a great arm , too. He could be playing in the All-Star game some day .

Q- You've always been one who relies upon your staff rather than computers. Tell us about them.

A- Our area scouts are great! We have some grizzled vets like Bill Pleis and some young scouts like Brian Stephenson and Mitch Webster so it's a good mix. We have two former scouting directors working for us. We just hired Manny Estrada, who was once a chief international scout, to cover Florida for us. It's hard to match that experience. We have a good-sized staff, larger than most , they work very hard and they've been making me look good.

Q- Finally, how does the 05 draft shape up from this distance?

A- I think it will be a solid draft. I see a lot of good prospects both at the high school and college level. For us , as always, we'll try to get the best player avalaible when we pick. We're always looking to get quality arms because of the nature of pitching. And , believe me, every kid we pick, there's a reason behind it.

We took enough of your time. Thanks, Logan.